Summer has been hot and dry, as usual. The hills are yellow and you'd be forgiven for thinking plants must have burnt off. Not so, as August's highlights show.
Allium cupanii Raf.
A slender, rather inconspicuous plant with a narrowly ovoid bulb surrounded by reticulate-fibrous tunics. The stem is 8–20 cm, with filiform leaves and 3-12 tubular flowers in a rather unilateral umbel. It grows on rocky limestone slopes and is a variable species recently divided into several, narrowly defined units.
Bryonia alba L.
The slender annual stems appear from a perennial tuber and climb on other vegetation by means of leaf-opposed, coiling tendrils. The corolla is deeply 5-lobed and greenish-yellow (male and female flowers on separate plants). The fruit is a spherical, finally black berry. B. alba is scattered in northern Greece, whereas the red-fruited B. cretica is more widespread.
Carlina acanthifolia All.
This is a mountain species of S Europe, scattered in northern Greece where it is generally found on road embankments and in dry grassland at altitudes of 900-1700 m. It is conspicuous and easily identified, having a single, large, sessile capitulum in the middle of a leaf rosette. The straw-coloured outer phyllaries bend inwards closing the capitulum in rainy weather and spread horizontally in sunshine.
Epilobium vernonicum Snogerup
A rather recently described species known only from a few non-calcareous mountains in northern Greece where it grows in seepage areas by streams at high altitude. It is likely to occur in similar habitats also north of the border. The flowers are relatively large with a long style terminating in a capitate stigma. A characteristic feature is the presence of thin, creeping stolons at the base of the stem.
Heracleum orphanidis Boiss.
The only Greek collection for this rare and local species is on Mt Varnous where it grows in shady places at forest margins around 1500-1900 m. It was first discovered in 1862 by the Greek botanist Theodoros Orphanides when collecting in the same mountain range, here known as Pelister, north of the present border. On the fYR* of Macedonian side of the border it is common as undergrowth in Molika pine (Pinus peuce) forest.
Peucedanum aegopodioides (Boiss.) Vandas
This is a Balkan endemic first described from the Bitola district in fYR* of Macedonia. It is a rhizomatous perennial c. 1 m tall, growing in wet places. It has broad, ovate, dentate leaf segments and flat, broadly elliptical fruits.
Thanks to Prof. Arne Strid for the text and all photos.